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Traffic Lawyers and Guarantees

Potential clients will sometimes ask me if I guarantee the results in traffic cases. It’s an understandable question.  Unfortunately, the answer is “no.”  Now, before you go on to the next website, let me explain why.  The North Carolina State Bar prohibits it.  Legal ethics rules do not allow lawyers to have “contingent fees” in criminal cases.  And generally speaking, even though traffic cases can be very minor, they still are treated like criminal cases.  So, let’s say you are charged with speeding 69 mph in 55 mph zone.  If a lawyer were to tell you, “If I don’t get this ticket reduced enough to keep you from getting any insurance points, you won’t owe me anything,” that would be an improper contingent fee.  That’s because the lawyer’s fee depends on — is contingent upon — the results. One reason for this rule is that lawyers who have not guaranteed a result may not be tempted to do something improper, like offer a bribe or lie, to obtain the desired result.

Do you have a traffic case?  Call me now at 919-683-2175.  I can’t make a guarantee, but I will do my best to get a result that will be worth your money.

License Suspensions –Common Causes

(Revised October 8, 2013)

There are all kinds of reasons that a person’s license may get suspended.  Here are some of the more common ones I see.

The first one is failure to take care of a ticket.  If you get a ticket, you’ve got to resolve it in some way.  If you just ignore it, the court will note you as having  “failed to appear.”   If you don’t take care of the case within 20 days after that, the court will notify DMV, and they will send you a letter telling you that unless you resolve the case your license will be revoked.  If you still don’t resolve it, DMV revokes your license.  Then, three months  — or three years — later you get stopped at a license check or for another speeding ticket and are informed that your license is revoked, which is a very serious matter.  The officer may very well arrest a person charged with driving while license revoked (also known as “DWLR”).  Perhaps even worse, DWLR carries eight insurance points (which would result in a 220% increase in your insurance rates for three years).

At that point, I may get a call.  What we have to do is take care of both the old ticket and the new one.  We file a motion to put the old ticket back on the court docket and work out a plea.  Then, once that’s cleared up, the D.A. is often willing to allow the person to plead to the reduced charge of simply driving without a license (only one insurance point) or will consent to allowing the person to have a prayer for judgment continued, which may not result in any insurance points.

Another common reason people get their license revoked is for speeding higher than 80 mph, or for speeding more than 15 mph over the limit while at the same time driving in excess of 55 mph.  Those are automatic thirty-day suspensions.  (N.C.G.S. 20-16.1).

Yet another cause of a license suspension is getting convicted within a twelve month period of:  two charges of speeding in excess of 55 mph; or a charge speeding more that 55 mph and a charge of reckless driving, or a charge of speeding in excess of 55 mph and a charge of aggressive driving. (N.C.G.S. 20-16).

If any of the above situations might apply to you, please give me a call at 919-683-2175.  You may think you have no hope to keep your license, but all of us make mistakes and I have found that District Attorneys and judges are usually willing to work with people to help them avoid some of these harsh outcomes.  Sometimes we just have to ask for a second — or a third — chance.

 

“Improper Equipment”

Updated September 17, 2014 and June 4, 2015.

 

Don’t just pay that ticket!  Let me try to get it reduced for you, maybe to  “improper equipment.”  Read below to find out why, and then call me at 919-683-2175.

Many District Attorneys will allow a person charged with a speeding ticket or other moving violation to plead responsible to the reduced charge of   “improper equipment,” also known as “I.E.”  How is this helpful?  Improper equipment is not a moving violation.  It carries no driver’s license or insurance points.  It’s the next best thing to having the case dismissed.

When an IE is not available, there may be  other ways to keep a driver’s insurance from going up, such as “prayer for judgment continued,” which I  have discussed in another post.

Finally, some people wonder how it’s right to let someone who is charged with a speeding ticket or improper passing to plead to improper equipment.  The simple answer is that it is an act of grace or mercy on the part of the State and of the judge.  And who among us does not need a bit or grace or mercy at least a few times in our lives? I know I do!

 Now, please do the proper thing and call or email me about helping you get an improper equipment!  919-683-2175. 

 

“Oops! I missed my court date.”

Revised 6 February 2014 

Missing a court date can be frustrating.  I’d be happy to help you out!  Give me a call at 919-683-2175

If you forgot to go to traffic court last week (or last month, or last year, or five years ago), I probably can help you avoid some or all of the consequences.

The first situation I will discuss is the very-recently-missed court date.  By “recent” I mean within the past 20 days.  If it has been 20 days or less since you missed your court date, I can ask for a new court date.  Then, on that new date, I handle the case in the normal fashion, and you probably will have avoided the consequences of missing your court date.

If your missed court date was more than 20 days ago, the clerk of court will notify the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  DMV then will send you a letter stating that  unless you take care of the ticket by such-and-such a date, your license will be suspended. In that situation, you will need to get a new court date and resolve the ticket before the suspension date listed on DMV’s letter.

An unpleasant consequence that  kicks in after 20 days is the failure-to-appear (“FTA”) fee.  Unless you have a really good excuse for missing your court date and then not resolving it within the first 20 days, the court adds a $200 late fee to your court costs.  (That’s  harsh,  especially since until a few years ago the FTA fee was only $50. . . .)  In any case, we sometimes can get the court to forgive the late fee, but you do need to have a good excuse — more than it just slipped your mind.

Sometimes people will call me, often from another state, saying that they went to their local DMV to get their license renewed and were told that their license was suspended because of an unresolved ticket in North Carolina from two — or ten! — years ago.  In that situation, the process is basically the same. I file a motion to reopen the old case, and we work out a plea reduction if possible, and enter the plea.  You then pay the fine and court costs (including the $200 late fee in almost all of those cases).

In many old cases there is one more step before you are “cleared” to renew your license.  North Carolina DMV may charge a fee  to remove you from the national database of persons who are blocked from getting a license because of unresolved tickets.  Click here to read my post about that.

So, it’s a good idea to take care of your ticket on your court date.  But everybody makes mistakes, and if you’ve  missed your court date, there are ways to straighten things out.

 

New Court Costs — RE-amended Post!

Here’s my latest experience on court costs.  If you plead guilty to a traffic infraction, the basic court costs will be $188. If you plead guilty to a non-infraction ticket, the basic costs will be $190.  (How to tell if your case is an infraction or a “regular” ticket?   You’ll need to know the file number, which is separate from the citation number.  If the letters between the numbers are “IF,” it’s an infraction.  If the letters are “CR,” it’s not an infraction. )

If we get your case reduced to improper equipment, which is just about the best break there is, short of dismissal, then there will be an extra court cost of $50.  If the judge wants to (but they usually don’t), he or she can also add a fine.

Finally, let me warn you about the “late fees” that came into effect in August of 2011. If you miss your court date by more than twenty days, you will be charged a $200 late fee!  Occasionally, we can get those forgiven, but just be aware of that if you’ve got a pending ticket.

Have a traffic question? Give me a call at 919-683-2175.

How much are the attorney’s fees in a traffic case?

My goal is to charge a fee that anyone with a car and a license can pay.  Having said that, the fee varies with the case. For example, the fee would be less for a  “basic” ticket (such as 48 mph in a 35 mph zone)  than it would for a more serious case.  An example of a more serious case would be one in which you might get more than one insurance point or which might suspend  your license.  The fee also is higher if there is more than one charge arising from the same incident.

My fee does not include the court costs or fines.  Often, the court costs and fine will be written on the ticket.  However, those amounts, especially the fine, may change depending upon how we resolve your case  (the amounts written on the ticket assume that you plead guilty as charged). If  we get the charges reduced the fine may change. If we use a prayer for judgment continued (PJC), there will be no fine, only the court costs.

 

 

Prayer for Judgment Continued (or “PJC”)

(Updated March 27, 2013)

What about Prayer for Judgment Continued?

 

With a prayer for judgment continued (or “PJC”), you plead guilty to a charge, but the judge never enters an official judgment — at your request ( or “prayer,” in legalese) entry of the judgment is postponed (or “continued”) indefinitely.

For insurance purposes, each household (not just each person) may have one (1) PJC every three years.  So, if you plead guilty to a charge that would result in insurance points, but the judge gives you a PJC, your insurance rates will not go up, as long as your household has not had any other PJCs in the past three years.

PJC’s also are useful if a driver is facing a license suspension.  For drivers license purposes, each driver is allowed two (2) PJCs every five years.  Here is an example of how a PJC could save a person’s license:

North Carolina DMV may suspend the licenses of drivers who get two convictions of speeding over 55 mph within a 12-month period.   So, if you plead guilty to driving 64 in a 55 mph zone in March, and then the following February, you plead guilty to driving 68 in a 55, DMV will suspend your license.  But, if the judge gives you a PJC on that second charge, your license will not be suspended.

 

Are you Entitled to a PJC?

No.  Just because you have not “used up” your PJCs does not mean that you are entitled to one.  Whether a driver will be given a PJC is within the judge’s discretion.  A driver (and their lawyer) may have to persuade the judge to give the driver a PJC  — so it helps to be polite to the officer and to wear a coat and tie to court!

 

A Common Misperception about PJCs

Many people believe that if they get a PJC, and then get another ticket a year or so later, the insurance points for that former PJC case will kick in.  That’s not how it works.  What you can not do is use another PJC on the second case.  If you do that, the two PJCs within a three-year period will cancel each other out, and you’ll get the points for both cases.   However, if you plead guilty to the second ticket without using a PJC, you will only get the insurance points, if any, that go with the second charge.

Note: This information is for general purposes only.  It is not meant to apply to a specific case. Also, this information is based on North Carolina law.  If you are licensed in another state, I suggest that you verify how a plea to a traffic case in North Carolina will affect your license where you live.

Have a traffic ticket? Please call me now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation. 

 

Background on Traffic Cases

Have a traffic ticket? Please call me now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation. 

Some background information about traffic cases:

Most tickets will cause your insurance to go up. The amount of the increase depends on the ticket. For example, driving 68 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone would result in two insurance points, which would mean a 45% increase.   Driving 78 mph in a 65 mph zone is more serious, and would result in four points, and in an increase of 80%. Usually, I can get these types of charges reduced so that your insurance does not go up as much or not at all.

Some tickets will cause your license to be suspended unless they are reduced. The most common type of suspension occurs when both of these things are true: You are driving over 55 miles per hour and, at the same time your speed is more than 15 miles per hour over the limit. For example, a charge of 74 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone would result in a thirty-day suspension. Again, I usually can get these cases reduced to prevent the suspension.

 Please call  now at 919-683-2175  for a free consultation.